How Leonardo DiCaprio got his name

88th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

Leonardo DiCaprio—it just sounds like the name of someone who was destined to be a star. Although it may strike you as one of those names someone assumes once they’re famous, Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is actually the actor’s given name.

According to an old family legend, DiCaprio got the first name “Leonardo” because when his mother was pregnant with him, he started kicking like crazy when his parents were looking at a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, where his mother was working at the time.

“My dad, being the man that picks up on cosmic messages, said that ‘His name must be Leonardo,'” DiCaprio told ABC News back in 2002.

leonardo dicaprio photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

And now it’s all coming full circle, as DiCaprio is set to play his namesake in a biopic film about the Renaissance artist.

After an intense bidding war with Universal, Paramount recently nabbed the rights to Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming book “Leonardo DaVinci,” on which the film will be based. The book will not be published until October, so it will likely be awhile before we can see DiCaprio as DaVinci on the big screen.

leonardo davinci photo
Flickr | Porfirio

This is not the first time DiCaprio has portrayed a character based on a real person. He won his first Oscar in 2015 for his gritty role as frontiersman Hugh Glass in “The Revenant.”

Other notable biopic performances, for which he was also nominated for Academy Awards, include his turn as Howard Hughes in “The Aviator” in 2005 and scam artist Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street” in 2013.

leonardo dicaprio academy awards photo
Getty Images | Jason Merritt

His co-star in the latter film, Jonah Hill, said DiCaprio gave him some advice about portraying real-life people.

“He said, ‘Always meet them if you can, take what you want and leave what you don’t,'” Hill recalled DiCaprio telling him

“It’s great if you can [meet the person]. You just have to do a lot of editing of who they actually are,” he added.




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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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